The petition for an injunction against the Pennsylvania voter ID law failed, in part, due to the free voter ID card that just became available yesterday. The free card, called a Department of State ID card, is available to registered voters without the acceptable identification for a free PennDOT photo ID.
The new card is issued through PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and is designed to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballot at the polls on November 6. The distinction here is that Pennsylvanians requesting the new identification must be registered voters and the card is used for voting purposes only. Applicants’ voter status will be verified along with the voter’s identity before the state issues this card. Individuals who have registered to vote within the past 30 days can indicate so on the request form.
One, however, must first apply for a free PennDOT Photo ID or a non-photo ID for individuals with religious objection to being photographed. When the PennDOT customer service representative determines that a person does not have the necessary documents to receive a free PennDOT ID, then the request for a free Department of State ID begins with the completion of an oath/affirmation form where the person affirms he or she has no other acceptable identification, such as a birth certificate or social security card.
To fulfill the request, Pennsylvanians must provide the following information: name, address, social security number, proof(s) of residence, county, and previous name and/or address if changed within the past 12 months. Acceptable proofs of residency include: lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, and tax records. Bringing copies of at least 2 forms of residency is the best approach.
Other things that could complicate the process are different names on the state voters list. The use of a nickname, Matt instead of Matthew is a case in point. The use of a maiden name on the voters list instead of a married name may prove just as problematic. Some confusion might also transpire if a person relocated more than 12 months ago without submitting a change of address to the county voting office.
Notify officials of a change of address or name change on a voter registration form to be safe. Submit those registration forms by October 9 for inclusion in the November election. And, in any event, write potential discrepancies on the request for the State Department ID and discuss the appropriate way to handle them with the PennDOT customer service representative.
This is a new process for which the familiarity of customer service reps may vary dramatically. So, know your rights, the proper name for the ID needed, the type of request form needed, the personal information that must be provided, and what is listed on your current voter registration card.
The Department of State, according to State Rep. Babette Josephs, has a $5 million education program planned to help voters understand the law and their rights. Plus, elected state officials stand ready to help voters with questions. Folks can also visit the official website at www.votespa.com or call 877.votespa (877.869.3772) for more information.
To locate the nearest PennDOT office, visit www.dot.state.pa.us or call 800.932.4600. Seniors in Philadelphia can call 215.464.7775 to obtain free transportation to PennDOT offices from Trans Mercy Ambulance. Seniors can arrange pickup from a residence or care facility anywhere in Philadelphia, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. For local SEPTA lines to PennDOT centers, click here.
The time to ready oneself for voting on Election Day is shortening. Some deadlines to remember are: as previously stated, voter registration forms must be submitted by October 9; apply for a civilian absentee ballot by October 30; submit absentee ballots to the board of elections by November 2; and the general election is November 6.
Please keep in mind, no eligible voter should be denied their right to vote and one’s undeniable recourse at the polls is a provisional ballot, which gives voters a few more days to make their case about eligibility to their county board of elections.
All rights to this article are reserved by Gloria Blakely. Copyright 2012.